The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC), an annual count of waterbirds, that is underway in parts of Delhi-NCR, has revealed a sharp decrease, about 50%, in the population of the water birds at Najafgarh Jheel compared to previous years. The census was carried out on January 18, 2022.
This year's count has recorded a sharp decrease as compared to last year. The total population decreased to 10,592 from 27,673 (2021). 71 species were found whereas, last year the count was 81.
Out of the 71 species, 29 are resident birds and 42 are migratory species which include 12 species of IUCN Red-listed threatened birds. Rare migratory birds such as Common Crane and Osprey were also recorded.
IUCN Red-listed Threatened Species recorded on this wetland are Black-headed Ibis (Resident species), Black-tailed Godwit (Winter migratory species), Common Pochard (Winter migratory species), Painted Stork (Indian resident & local migratory species), Greater Spotted Eagle (Winter migratory species from Siberia/ Russia), Oriental Darter (Resident species), Northern Lapwing (Winter migratory species), Wooly-necked Stork (Resident species), Eurasian Curlew (Winter migratory species), Ferruginous Duck (Winter migratory species), Sarus Crane (Resident species), Oriental Darter (Resident species).
TK Roy, Ecologist, and AWC Delhi coordinator, Wetlands International South Asia says, “Najafgarh Jheel is the second largest wetland in NCR-Delhi. Unfortunately, it depends on monsoon rainfall. Earlier, the main source of water of the jheel was the Sahibi River but the construction of Massani Barrage in Rewari district of Haryana killed it. Two major sewage drains (Badshahpur Drain & Dharampur Drain) originating from Haryana are directly pouring into the jheel and polluting its water. Apart from global climate change impact, other major local factors degrade the habitat of the wetlands year by year.”
He further added that global climate change impacts the overall migration of the long-distance winter migratory birds from far Central Asia, North Asia including Russia and Siberian. There are delayed arrivals as well the species diversity and the number either fluctuating or decreasing overall numbers on specific wetlands. "In Najafgarh too, winter migratory water birds arrived late. Species diversity and number has decreased almost everywhere in Northern India” said TK Roy.